BLACK SHEEP’S DEN – L’ANTRE DES TÊTES BRÛLÉES

There are some really nice aviator pubs and restaurants throughout the world, in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, New-York, in London, Farnborough, Gloucestershire, Paris, Le Bourget. Some only bear the name ‘aviator’ or another one relating to aviation.

AVIATORS BAR
Bar LES TETES BRULEES, 20 Rue Verdière, La Rochelle

While strolling down a street during the summer holidays, I stumbled upon a bar totally dedicated to pilots and aircraft in La Rochelle, France last summer. It was a bit busy on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I saw this sign « LES TÊTES BRÛLÉES » and a shield over the street corner on which I could make out a black sheep. Just above was an inverted-gull-shaped aircraft outline. The picture of a bull terrier on the awning could ring a bell too. This one wore sunglasses – there must be some fun in there, I mused. « Might it be Pappy Boyington’s den? » I wondered.

Some customers let us in and we were standing engrossed with the aviation world as if it were a dream. Flight suits and flight uniforms were hanging over tables. The bar – where laughter, grins and giggles are the norm – was surrounded with badges, aviation artifacts, aircraft and pilots photos up on the walls. There were aircraft models in a showcase, and several of them hanging all over the place. Some souvenirs were dedicated to naval aviation. It looked like a small – though dense – aviation hall of fame. There was a black sign above the bar featuring a short text in white letters, which said:

IN   WORLD   WAR  II ,

MARINE   CORPS   MAJOR

GREG   « PAPPY »   BOYINGTON

COMMANDED   A   SQUADRON

OF   FIGHTER   PILOTS ,   THEY

WERE   A   COLLECTION   OF

MISFITS   AND  SCREWBALLS

WHO   BECAME   THE   TERRORS

OF   THE   SOUTH   PACIFIC .

THEY   WERE   KNOWN   AS   THE

BLACK   SHEEP .

Sure, it rings a bell! This is the introductory text to the famous series « Baa Baa Black Sheep » about the brave VMA-214 pilots who operated from the Solomon Islands during the WW2, in the Pacific War. I could have heard the theme song from « The Whiffenpoof Song » turned into a drunk-voice, exhausted-though-happy chorus:

WE ARE POOR LITTLE LAMBS,

WHO HAVE LOST OUR WAY.

BAA! BAA! BAA!

Click off and listen:

AVIATORS PUBThe black sheep shield outside, the F4U Corsairs inside and this sign you cannot miss when you enter the pub make you breathe aviation history. Everything, even the lavatory walls covered with aviation slang graffiti, are very well in unison with the local atmosphere. Each conversation is focused on flying, pilots, aircraft, and of course fun!

There is a sort of an alcove in the back room made up of genuine airplane seats, artifacts, stickers and photos. You can even drink aviation. Even though Les Têtes Brûlées is not a POL depot you can be served a Kerosene, a great cocktail always served with a grin from the waiters. Jérôme, the boss, seem to be widely known in the aviation community, far beyond La Rochelle. Whoever they are. Pilots, flight attendants, crew members, engineers, aerospace lovers, they all know the Black Sheep’s den. Aviation geeks, this is a place where you have got to go for you can expect a nice welcome.

Click HERE to go to « Bar Les Têtes Brûlées »

Why Vought F4U Corsair « WHISTLING DEATH »?

EN FRANÇAIS:

Il y a dans le monde un bon nombre de bars et restaurants consacrés à l’aviation et quelquefois à l’aérospatiale: en Alabama, Géorgie, Caroline du Nord, New-York, à Londres, Farnborough, dans le Gloucestershire, à Paris, Le Bourget. Il y en a qui ne portent que le nom « aviateur » ou d’autres qui rappellent l’aviation ou l’espace.

Alors que je flânais dans une rue pendant les vacances d’été à la Rochelle, je suis tombé tout à fait par hasard sur un bar entièrement dédié aux pilotes et aux avions. C’était assez animé en ce samedi après-midi ensoleillé lorsque je vis l’enseigne « LES TÊTES BRÛLÉES » surplombant le coin de la rue, sur laquelle on pouvait distinguer un mouton noir.  Juste au dessus, la silhouette d’un avion aux ailes en W. L’image d’un chien bull-terrier sur l’auvent en terrasse me rappelait déjà quelque chose… Ce chien portait des lunettes de soleil – on doit bien s’amuser là dedans, songeai-je. Et voici ce que je me demandais soudain: « Se pourrait-il que cette échoppe soit une des antres de Pappy Boyington? »

Des clients devant le bar nous firent entrer et nous sommes restés un moment debouts, captivés par cet univers de l’aviation, comme si c’était en rêve. Des combinaisons de vol et uniformes de personnels navigants étaient suspendus au-dessus des tables. Le bar, où fou-rires, sourires et ricanements semblent de rigueur, était décorés d’insignes, de pièces de collection d’aviation, de photos d’avions et de pilotes qui tapissaient les murs. Il y avait des maquettes d’avion dans une vitrine, et plusieurs qui pendaient un peu partout. Des souvenirs évoquaient l’Aéronavale. Cela ressemblait à un petit, quoique dense, temple de l’aviation. Pour l’accueil, au dessus du bar est affiché un panneau noir rappelant une célèbre séries TV américaine en lettres capitales blanches, traduites de l’anglais:

PENDANT LA DEUXIEME GUERRE MONDIALE,

LE COMMANDANT DES MARINES

GREG « PAPPY » BOYINGTON ÉTAIT

À LA TÊTE D’UNE ESCADRILLE

DE PILOTES DE CHASSE. CELLE-CI

ÉTAIT COMPOSÉE DE MARGINAUX

ET D’AVENTURIERS QUI DEVINRENT

LES TERREURS DU PACIFIQUE SUD

ON LES CONNAISSAIT SOUS LE NOM

DE « BLACK SHEEP » (MOUTON(S) NOIR(S))

Bien sûr que cela vous dit quelque chose! Il s’agit du générique de la célèbre série « Les Têtes Brûlées » qui retraçait la saga des courageux pilotes de chasse de l’escadron VMA-214 qui opéraient depuis les Îles Salomon pendant la seconde guerre mondiale. J’aurais pu même entendre la mélodie tirée de « The Whiffenpoof Song » transformée en un refrain à l’eau de vie entonné par des voix de soiffards épuisés:

NOUS SOMMES DE PAUVRES PETITS AGNEAUX,

QUI SE SONT ÉGARÉS.

BÊÊ! BÊÊ! BÊÊ!

Le mouton noir et cet insigne à l’extérieur qu’on ne peut pas manquer et les Chance Vought F4U Corsairs à l’intérieur, font que cet endroit, dès qu’on y met les pieds, respire l’histoire de l’aviation pour votre bonheur. Tout, même les murs des toilettes, est couvert de graffitis du jargon de l’aéronautique à l’unisson avec l’atmosphère des lieux. Chaque bribe de conversation est tournée vers le vol, les pilotes et les avions et bien sûr on s’y amuse beaucoup!

Il y a un genre d’alcôve dans l’arrière-salle faite d’authentiques sièges d’avions récupérés, de pièces de collection, d’autocollants et de photos. On peut même boire aviation. Même si les Têtes Brûlées n’est pas un dépôt des essences, on peut très bien vous y servir un « KEROSÈNE », un super cocktail toujours accompagné d’un grand sourire du personnel de la maison. Il semble que Jérôme, le patron, soit très connu dans la communauté aéronautique et bien au-delà de La Rochelle. Quels qu’ils soient, pilotes, PNC, membres d’équipage, mécaniciens, passionnés de l’aérospatiale, tous connaissent « l’antre du mouton noir ». Passionnés d’aviation, il faut absolument que vous vous y rendiez parce que vous pouvez être certains qu’on va vous y réserver un très bon accueil.

Cliquez ICI pour vous rendre au bar Les Têtes Brûlées.

United Airlines Boeing 757 – SAFETY Video and Script

 

Watch, listen, and read:

 

PANIC ONBOARD THESE DAYS – not only due to AIR RAGE

 

Panic onboard – That is what happened on a JetBlue aircraft last week. The captain dashed to the bathroom’s door which was locked, got jittery, then running along the aisle, he hollered out insane things such as « They’re going to take us down! ». The passengers wrestled the pilot down, tied him up with seat belts, and he was handed over to the police after landing.

An incident of this kind had already been reported two weeks before. An American Airlines flight attendant had been giving the safety instructions just before takeoff. She suddenly ranted about mechanical issues which were immediately refuted by the other cabin crew members. She kept speaking incoherently about Al-Qaeda, and the 9/11 attacks, about her fears of crashing, etc. A few people managed to wrestle her down, and the passengers were startled and scared as they could hear her blood-curdling screams when she was being handcuffed by the police.

According to these reports, these insane behaviors are believed to be air-rage cases but the flight attendant who got temporarily mad would be deemed bipolar by doctors, and her condition could explain her behavior. As far as the JetBlue pilot is concerned, his neighbors cannot understand as they would see him as a kind person.

Another scary situations occurred in flight this week on Monday April 2, 2012. 80-year-old Helen Collins landed the Cessna 414 twin-engine aircraft in which the pilot – her husband – died a few minutes before at the controls!

Thanks to the video/audio tape hereafter, we can imagine now what was going through her mind as it was the first time she had flown an aeroplane: (video with transcripts – click on the link below)

http://youtu.be/QxZKKDTRgyk

Outstanding Helen Collins hurt her back, and cracked a rib but she managed to bring the plane to a safe stop at Door County Cherryland Airport, near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Last but not least, HATS OFF to Braden Blennerhassett, an Australian pilot who never panicked last Tuesday as a SNAKE popped out from the dashboard; slithered down his leg while he was landing! Read the SCRIPT and listen to the video link about this story below:

 

Here is how this brave pilot kept his cool on his aircraft (interview):

 

Another interesting video with the air traffic controller about the emergency message she received:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2125423/Snakes-Plane-Reptile-cockpit-forces-Darwin-pilot-make-emergency-landing.html

These recent stories – not to mention the latest crash of an F/A-18D Hornet from Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, on Friday in which the pilots managed to bail out safely before the fighter aircraft crashed into an apartment building fortunately left with no death toll – remind us of this well-worn saying: Flying is simply hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror.

Special thanks to Xavier Cotton – Passion pour l’aviation‘s webmaster – for his help and support, and for passing these video links on to me. Thank you very much indeed. 😉

 

PASSENGERS DID BELIEVE THEIR AIRCRAFT WOULD CRASH

 

Scary flight onboard British Airways BA 0206 – It happened over the Atlantic Ocean at 35,000 feet on Friday January 13, 2012 at 03.00 AM.

The passengers were given the scare of their lives by an emergency message which said that the aircraft was about to crash into the ocean, and that they have to brace themselves for impact. It just was not true, as the message was pre-taped, and was sent-out by mistake. The flight attendants dashed into the cabin to calm down the panic surging. Then, an announcement added that such warnings – if re-iterated – should be diregarded.

British Airways has apologized to the people who were onboard BA 0206 for this incident. Watch the video:

 

When mice take the Mickey out of airline…

Mouse in commercial aircraft
Mouse - Photo © George Shuklin, Wikimedia.org

It first happened on Monday September 5, 2011. A Nepal Airlines flight was cancelled at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.

Do you guess why? The flight attendants spotted a stowaway mouse onboard their B-757 bound to Bangkok! The small rodent fled from the galley’s pantry, and rushed from a box of drinks to the back of the cabin although the 113 passengers did not notice the tiny stowaway.

The mouse was finally caught thanks to a glue trap. The jetliner was grounded for more than eleven hours.

 

Then, the same Boeing 757 – this time bound to Kathmandu – was grounded at Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday September 6, in the evening.

The reason: the pilots spotted a mouse in the cockpit just before the airplane departure. The aircraft has not been cleared to take off because this mouse was trapped but then escaped, and would still be on the loose. The 84 passengers were rerouted on a Dragonair aircraft.

 

As far as flight safety is concerned, an aircraft cannot take off with a mouse moving freely onboard as it can gnaw the wiring, and therefore represents a potentiel danger.

It can only be caught or trapped. However, NAC (Nepal Airlines Corporation) could not poison any mouse for a small animal can damage an airplane even if it is dead somewhere, and particularly if in contact with a vital part of the plane.

 

Special thanks to Mr Hermas, and LadyEleanorA who buzzed this piece of news.